getting it off my chest; why do I bother?
'...doubt, grief are your friends...'
collage ca. 19 x 28 cm
in frame 31 x 41 cm
'...doubt, grief are your friends...' quote from Laurie Anderson in her Norton Lectures, I have referred to that often enough! an apt title for this one, the cloud hanging over the main figure holds a lot of 'stuff', things we carry with us and help us along the way, until they don't; also, our mother told us she would move to Cloud 11b after her death, and every once in a while I look up to the clouds and imagine she's up there watching over me.....grief doubt, sweet pain
I tend to overthink things, although not always when I should. QED.
I am also known to act before I have thought about the consequences of my actions...which has found me dangling from a tree branch after the ladder slid sideways, or needing three arms when moving things ánd needing support almost toppling over down the stairs, getting into cars with drunk drivers (this was a long time ago, before I had kids) you get the drift. I do stupid things like anybody else, if I'm lucky no one else gets hurt. I rant, to myself and if I'm lucky my husband. He can only bear so much, bless him.
There are many thoughts and 'theories' swirling around in my head and I can become convinced I have looked at almost every possible perspective of a societal issue and draw conclusions about that subject, f.e. why many men believe women are second-rate human beings and do not belong in the public space. And just when I start to believe I have it all worked out, as I'm watching a talk-show one of the guests makes a valid point about a religion on which I have pinned a lot of the blame and I realise I have to RE-THINK the issue. Hence, I will keep this particular hobby-horse under my cap for the time being.
I hold a lot of anger, or pent-up frustration, or both, whatever arghhh:
in my body, in my mind, which is probably the same thing. It has taken me a long time, up till now 58 years on the planet, to see this: I am angry, a lot of the time. I am frustrated and this is partly why I am sharing my thoughts today. No one has to read what I write.
The anger and sense of frustration are not only triggered by the realisation that women are and have been (mis)treated all over the world, forever by everybody - women included, but the stupid things I heard people say over and over again all through Covid-lockdown. Now we have a war on our doorstep and the so-called selfless acts others publicly perform on TV by taking in Ukrainian refugees, not only because they want to help others but because they want to feel good about themselves and are, no surprise, hugely disappointed things don't quite work out the way they imagined (they are not angels and their guests are not grateful and the whole episode ends in tears, we now have refugees looking for the next place to stay...) Brexit seems like a fond memory! March saw weird municipal elections here in The Netherlands with roughly 50% of the voters casting their vote, what does that say about our society? Is this true democracy? How come a couple of men in charge keep on lying about mistakes they made? I don't care that you make mistakes, WE ALL DO, just admit it! then we can move on, but oh no, committees have to ask questions and consultants consult and advisory boards give expert advice, does anything change? Nope.
I wonder what it is to be human. A human being.
It is and is not an easy task. I use the word 'task' loosely as I know it's not something we can ever finish or be very good at, "this year's 'best-in-life-award' goes to!"
But being human is quite a different thing to being any other animal, as we are conscious of what we do and have opposable thumbs, even though most of the time we don't really know why we do what we do. We tend to rationalise our behaviour afterwards. At least this is what I have observed, in myself as well as in others.
I feel many of our problems stem from the fact that we don't look at what kind of beings we truly are:
- consumers, we want: food, sex, minerals, homes, art, books, time, health, land, status, children, pets, stuff in our homes, stuff on our face, stuff in our garage, stuff in our phones, more and more stuff, and then we like to give it away and get more stuff, and if we don't want the clutter anymore we declutter and want more empty space, how to acquire all this stuff? [un]fortunately* we are also:
- prone to action (violence, love and everything in-between) and therefore like to think of ourselves as
- problem-solvers, plus to make it more complicated we are
- lazy, we like easy fixes
Let's start with consumerism, I meet many folks who tell me we have to lessen our consumption and I say 'go ahead, show me how you are going to consume less' and they stare at me and mumble things like 'well I sort out my garbage and use public transport where possible, have trees planted whenever I fly' as if there's a trade off, or 'the government has to deal with it' and when I ask them 'what about people who already consume far less than you or I do, what about them? do they have to consume less as well?'
It's all very well telling OTHERS what to do!, I yell in my head.
I reply 'it seems to me we are basically consumers, it's what we enjoy doing'
'oh no,' they say 'there was a time when we lived in balance with Nature (one can hear capital N)'
'oh okay,' I go 'when was this? 500 years ago, 2000 perhaps?'
'yes, you know we wandered the earth and gathered what we needed and did not leave a huge footprint...'
'hmmm, so this was before we had penicillin and if you cut your finger you could die of sepsis? before babies were inoculated and most of them died before they reached the age of five**? before you and I had clean drinking water and toilets? no painkillers, rotten teeth, average life expectancy of forty, women dying in child-birth or if they managed to survive, they died from breast cancer, a slow painful death impacting hugely upon families? I 'm sure we had far less mouths to feed, but to me it does not sound great, it might be a balance of sorts, but not the kind I want to live with.'
maybe the conversation never really took place like this, as my mind isn't quite as quick as I would like, but I imagine it could have gone like this
And so, for the sake of continuing my rambling thoughts, say we have accepted that we are consumers and we go about accumulating to our heart's content, busy busy busy, but look closer: some are more busy than others, some have more than others and those that have more want more and those that have less want more too. We encounter problems that need solving as everybody should have their share!
what to do? a clever person invents the wheel, hey presto look how much easier the land can be tilled using a horse and wheels and travel is so much lighter in a horse and carriage and before you know it we need food for many more mouths and more land and livestock and wheels and fuel and omg black gold and wealth spreads as does poverty and the solution is part of the problem, because it is very difficult if not impossible to imagine the consequences of a beautiful invention.
So often we forget to ask the all-important question 'what is the problem this solution solves?'
Just as we were getting used to the idea of having solved the lack-of-stuff-problem with the wheel and how it afforded many (not all mind you!) an improved life, we invented many other solutions for our lazy bums!
We flop down on a chair, in and of itself an innocent object, now we know sitting is the new smoking. In 2016 more people died of the consequences of obesitas than from hunger! Worldwide there are enough calories folks, they are just not going into the right mouths.
we all want to have our cake AND eat it, I think there are very few exceptions, I have yet to meet someone who is not susceptible to the lure of the cake.
* depending on your point of view
** as many still do in (developing) countries all over the world, just not The West, where we seem to be wandering about in our KinderGarten becoming anti-vaxxers undermining the very fabric of our privileged, comfortable lives.
I don't care if folks do or don't believe in inoculations as long as they are willing to bear the impact of their beliefs themselves and not pretend they are on a quest to improve my world as well. I am sorry for their children at whose expense they can afford to be 'principled', as the anti-vaxxers, in the Netherlands at least, are mostly of a generation who have had the jabs and happily travel all over the world in the knowledge they are safe, they just don't want to poison their offspring. We have a protestant god-fearing minority who have been anti-vaxxers ever since the start of the program. In 1992/93 we had the last outbreak of polio in The Netherlands, the only ones to get infected were among this religious group of unprotected citizens, 2 people died, many others who contracted the disease now live with the longterm ill-health-effects. All of which was avoidable. I am not saying you have to have your child inoculated, but what I am curious to know is why a parent, who presumably tries to do what is best for their child, and if there is something that can improve the quality of that child's life, why you would want to refuse that? Because it is the child that has to live with the consequences, if it's lucky enough to survive, not the parent. As far as I am concerned my child is my responsibility not my property. On the other hand one could claim inoculations are nonsense and death is as much part of our lives as living, so goodbye to medicine and let nature take it's course, survival of the fittest, if no the most clever, or emotionally strong or artistically gifted.....blah di blah di blah and back & forth on this journey of viewpoints.
I guess what I am getting at is this:
do not pretend to be a better person than you are,
you are good enough just the way you are
little good has ever come from overstretching oneself:
burn-out, fights, war
deep down we want the same things: love
love love love love love
gloves are off, at least today they are
What I will say is that to live an authentic life, there are times when we want to be the best we can be BUT it has to be for our own reasons, not for the wishes of others. In the daily aspects of life, finding contentment within ourselves, for me, has been a life long pursuit and now in my 70's, the balance of wants and needs, of caring and going overboard, of speaking and knowing when to hold silence and listen, these are my touchstones.
Thank you for this very important conversation.
I smiled when I got to "you are good enough just the way you are" though, because it reminded me of Mr. Rogers' "I like you just the way you are." Together they are the solution to the root of perhaps 99% of the world's problems. Love yourself. Love your neighbor.
but it is all important
the many unkind things we say to ourselves and pass on to others accumulates
I am trying to hold up a mirror to myself, of course, and attempting to answer as honestly as I can to the many questions life poses
maybe asking the same of others is a bit rich, but I keep on probing
As you mention: listening and keeping silent, is key to having a REAL conversation where everyone feels safe enough to say what they want and think, trying not to judge but think 'you are good enough just the way you are' and you are trying too! Again I try and fail a lot in this respect, but I am conscious of this fact and try again to just listen....
thank you for sharing here
I know I'm rooting for a solution here, as I would like the planet to remain habitable for humans as well as countless other species
However there is a price to pay and are we willing to do that?
p.s. I wish google offered a reply-to-reply option like in your blog
For me at least, hearing actual experience really opens up my eyes to what does and does not make sense, so again thanks.
I agree, many folks in what I call our Kinder-Garten-society HAVE NO IDEA; even if they have visited poorer countries where parents would give an arm and a leg to get their children vaccinated.
I am also puzzled by their highly irrational behaviour: on the one hand many young parents try to protect their children from everything (which is of course impossible) they even track their kids' phones, but then they turn around and tell you 'no poison-vaccins for my child' because of some obscure research, I wonder what their parents told them....
what will I do to make the world a little better today?
yes bitching and complaining are well known pass-times here too!
and yet, we all do what we can you know